Commenting on the latest data on the uptake of advanced learning loans, David Way, former CEO of the National Apprenticeship Service and learndirect champion, says:
“I am not sure that many people will be too surprised that loans for Apprenticeships are proving slow to get off the ground. This is because few employers are attracted by the notion of asking some of their older staff to take out a loan for training while younger employees do not have to do so. Nor is it attractive to employers to say to people they recruit as Apprentices that the job offer comes with the condition that they take out a loan for their training. Attracting the most talented people you can is the main aim for employers and asking people to take out a loan will not work for many businesses recruiting today.
“While the Government is right to explore ways in which individuals can invest in their own training because the returns on an Apprenticeship for most individuals makes this a very worthwhile investment, employers are clearly not yet convinced by this particular approach.
“At this early stage, loans appear to be working for a few people. It will be fascinating to know more about their experiences and circumstances and, now that we have real operational practice on the ground, the extent to which loans can be expected to contribute to future growth in Apprenticeships.
“Inevitably there has been a focus on the numbers but it is the learning that is taken from these early experiences and how employers and Government respond that really matters. It is also more important to look at what is happening to overall investment in skills and Apprenticeships rather than at the number of loans.
“With the increasing recognition of the vital employer role in owning Apprenticeships, the simple truth will not have escaped anyone’s notice that loans are picking up slowly because most employers are not yet seeing the value or appropriateness in asking people to take them up.
“This makes it vital to push on with other Apprenticeship initiatives and reforms to raise overall investment and ensure high quality progression routes for all.”
learndirect supports the idea of giving vocational education parity of esteem with HE and supporting progression into higher level Apprenticeships. As well as offering a range of level 3+ qualifications, learndirect works with employers to provide guidance on how they can support staff who are interested in investing in their skills.